Encyclopedia > Glycerin

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Glycerin (or glycerol) is an alcohol with three hydroxyl groups:


Natural fats and oils are esters from glycerin and fatty acids, so called triglycerides.


where R, R' and R are long chain alkanes (saturated fats) or alkenes (unsaturated fats). Chain lengths are in the range of C16 to C22 .

Glycerin is soluble in water, because of the three hydrophilic OH groups. Fats and oils are insoluble in water, because the OH groups are replaced by ester groups. They are hydrophobic (see also solubility of alcohols in water).

It is colorless, odorless and sweet tasting.

Composed C3H8O3, it is obtained commercially through the soap industry[?]; after fats and oils have been treated with alkali to form soap, distillation purifes the chemical from its crude form.

In its common liquid form, glycerol is nonpoisonous, has an affinity for water, and has a high viscosity.

Applications of the Chemical

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